Neil Francis says under-fire All Blacks coach Ian Foster’s “baroque stupidity” is the root cause for the former world champions’ current troubles.
The former Ireland lock, writing for The Times, has slammed Foster, as well as All Blacks captain Sam Cane and inexperienced wing Leicester Fainga’anuku following a 23-12 defeat by Ireland on Saturday.
Ireland produced a clinical performance in Dunedin to claim their first win over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil and set up a series decider in Wellington.
The 36-Test-capped Francis also blamed Foster for the mismanagement of the substitution of Ardie Savea, which kept the Kiwis’ their best forward out for most of the match.
“The baroque stupidity of Foster’s decisions on and off the park are a testament to what happened on the field,” Francis writes.
“He made the huge mistake of taking off his best forward, Ardie Savea. It is not [Jaco] Peyper’s fault that Foster does not know the rules governing replacements.
“For New Zealand, the malaise was palpable. Their back line on the day couldn’t run a bath.”
He also predicted that this series could be the end for Cane, who he set to quit as skipper should Ireland win the third and final Test.
“Sam Cane has been bang average for years and this could be his final series,” Francis says.
On the performance of 22-year-old Fainga’anuku, who was yellow-carded for a dangerous chargedown on Ireland wing Mack Hansen, Francis added: “Fainga’anuku had no idea what to do and was lost at sea as Ireland broke down the right wing … can he defend? Well, that is the coach’s job to know.
“Maybe in a much tighter match it would be enlightening to know whether your left wing knows not just how to tackle but to read the game defensively.
“The poor kid was hauled off directly after Ireland scored. Whose fault was it that he was out of his depth? Foster is a clown.”